Cakes in the Library!

Next weekend the Southern Food & Beverage Museum is hosting the third annual Big Top Cake Competition with John E. Koerner & Co., Inc and Delgado Community College. While we’re delving into the rules and details of the cake competition, we realized that we have a wonderful resource of cake knowledge here in the John & Bonnie Boyd Hospitality & Culinary Library. And while we'll take any excuse to eat cake, it is SoFAB's 10th birthday year, so we intend to eat quite a lot of it!

A quick look through the catalog revealed quite a few books about cakes, with tips on making not only delicious ones, but also trends in decorating and directions on emulating some of those professional styles. Even if you didn’t enter this year’s competition (there’s still time!), there’s nothing wrong with picking up a few pointers and working on your next masterpiece (and there’s always next year!).

We don’t recommend coming to visit the Boyd Library on an empty stomach at any time, because it’s hard enough to read and even harder to read about food when you’re hungry. But if you’re looking at cake cookbooks, you’d better not be on a diet or trying to reduce your sugar intake. One glance at the cover of Martha Stewart’s CAKES was enough to send this sweet tooth to the bakery. The decadent chocolate behemoth looks utterly delicious, and with Martha’s straightforward instructions, doesn’t even seem too hard to make in your kitchen. Like tonight. There are also regional specialties explored in books like Anne Byrne’s American Cakes, and Nancie McDermott’s Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations. If you leave the library without a foolproof recipe for coconut cake, we won’t be held responsible.

For beginning decorators, all of the cake books offer tips and strategies for hiding your delicious imperfections. Chocolate curls and buttercream can really disguise a multitude of mistakes. If you’re willing to take it up a notch, though, we’ve got you covered there too. Cile Bellefleur Burbidge goes step by step through making roses and ferns and lattices with frosting in The Fine Art of Cake Decorating. Even professionals will appreciate the range of techniques offered, and beginners will be able to work their way through the decorating process. For an interesting twist, look no further than Surprise-Inside Cakes by Amanda Rettke, where you’ll learn how to hide images inside your cakes, using other cakes, to create such scenes as a sailboat race or a football game. Quirky and fun, Surprise-Inside reminds us that slicing into a cake is always a joy, and the exterior isn’t the only place we can celebrate that fact.

The cake and dessert section covers a wide variety of delicious treats, so there’s much more to be explored in person. Mark your calendars for next Saturday, when you’ll be able to ooh and ahh over the creative geniuses in our cake decorating world, vote for your favorites, and taste all the amazing samples.


Join us for the month of June, 2018 as we Spotlight the John & Bonnie Boyd Hospitality & Culinary Library as part of the 10 Years of SoFAB programming! The library includes a collection of over 11,000 cookbooks, menus, archives, pamphlets, and more. The Library and Archive form a unique repository of culinary knowledge for generations to come.